CAPS United have raised concerns over the state of the Maglas Stadium pitch, ahead of their trip to face hosts Shabanie Mine in a Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final match on Sunday.
BY HENRY MHARA
The two teams drew nil all in their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match on the opening weekend of the season, a result that the champions blamed on the “unplayable” surface.
They return to the stadium again this weekend, and assistant coach Fungai Kwashi is well aware of what his team will be up against as they seek passage to the semi-finals of the competition.
“The pitch is not the best in the country. It’s bumpy, but what can we do? We just have to get on with it. We played our first game of the season there and it was tough because of the surface and the conditions there. The pitch wasn’t the best, but complaining will not help us. We will just have to soldier on and give a good fight. Come Sunday, we will be ready for everything and the guys will fight and give their all for the club,” he said.
Shabanie Mine have proved a very difficult opponent at the venue, and Caps United are not the only side that faltered at this stadium, as fellow giants Dynamos were also frustrated and dropped points there.
Kwashi and his boss, Lloyd Chitembwe should be pondering how they will deal with a stubborn side that has also troubled Premiership title contenders Ngezi Platinum and FC Platinum at home.
The two teams, both out of the title race, are looking at this competition as their only opportunity to win some silverware this season.
Caps United have picked up form in recent weeks, but it seems the good run has come a bit late for them to defend their title, while Shabanie Mine are fighting for their survival in the league.
“We expect a tough game, against a hardworking team that has good quality coaches in (Takesure) Chiragwi and (Taku) Shariwa, so it’s going to be a tough battle. It’s a cup game so we don’t look at the league form, it’s about who is ready and who wants it more on the day.
“The preparations are going on well, everyone is fighting for places in the team and all the players are in high spirits, so it’s good for the coaches if the players are buzzing. It makes our jobs and lives much easier,” Kwashi said.
The former Caps United star reported a clean bill of health in the squad, which welcomes back vice-captain, Moses Muchenje (pictured), who missed the team’s trip to the same town last weekend, when they played FC Platinum in the league, due to suspension.
Chiragwi has warned Caps United to expect a big fight from his side.
“Caps United are a big institution and playing against them is in itself extra motivation. The players are always motivated to be playing against Caps United.
“(But) we believe football is the same, we are playing in the same league, same competition and the only difference is in names.
We are determined to go further in this competition and we see this match as a must-win encounter,” he said.
Chiragwi, however, acknowledged it would be a tough match.
“It will be difficult though. Caps United are the champions, they have been playing in the Champions League. They are also playing well in the league and when you factor in that they are no longer in the race for the championship and have their eyes firmly on this tournament, you know you will be up against a tough opponent,” he said.
Shabanie booked their place in the quarter-finals with an away victory over ZPC Kariba, while Caps United knocked out the competition’s defending champions Ngezi Platinum Stars following a 1-0 away win.
Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final fixtures
Tomorrow: Chapungu v How Mine (Ascot), Black Rhinos v Harare City (Rufaro)
Sunday: Shabanie Mine v Caps United (Maglas), Bulawayo City v Yadah (Barbourfields).